Last night’s episode of AEW Dynamite saw Saraya (FKA Paige in WWE) reveal that she’s finally been medically cleared to compete in the ring once again, before challenging former AEW Women’s Champion Britt Baker to a match at the upcoming Full Gear PPV. Saraya hasn’t wrestled since December 2017, as she was forced to retire due to a neck injury she suffered shortly after making her return from yet another neck injury that had sidelined her for a year and a half.
Speaking with Renee Paquette on The Sessions, Saraya discussed the process of getting cleared, highlighting the importance of making sure all the appropriate checks had been completed to ensure her safety.
“I came to terms with not being able to wrestle anymore, and that’s fine, but a couple years ago I did do some x-rays and they were looking great. I didn’t do the full MRI, just the x-rays. It’s not like a perfect read on the neck with the whole fluid thing. X-Ray is just the bones and MRI, you can see everything, the inner workings of the neck, the important part like how much fluid is around there, it’s crazy. I was nervous about doing the MRI a couple years ago, but [the x-ray] was looking good, ‘maybe in a couple years it’ll start looking better.’ I wasn’t going to rush it because Edge was out for nine years, Stone Cold (Steve Austin) had the match with Kevin Owens but he didn’t bump very much. It was limited, but it was still an amazing match. I thought, ‘I could probably pull off doing a Stone Cold match.’ I’m throwing that idea at Tony (Khan) and he’s like, ‘With Sting coming in, we did tag matches. Maybe we could do tag matches.’ I was like, ‘Hmmmm.’ If I were to come back, I would want it to be a singles match. I remember talking to the doctors and they were like, ‘you can do this, but we’re not going to clear you to take a bump.’ That’s the whole misconception with how the internet works. ‘She talked to 25 doctors and AEW doctor, Doc Sampson cleared her.’ He didn’t clear me for anything. I went out there with Britt and we did our own thing, I didn’t ask for clearance from the doctor there, I’m going to be honest. He was cool with it, ‘just please don’t take a bump.’ It was, ‘if you want to actually have matches, we have to get you completely cleared. That means MRI, CT scan, everything.’ I don’t want to go to a doctor that is associated with wrestling because I feel there is bias there. I don’t want to make the same mistake where I came back and I’m wrestling every day. I want to be aware and careful of my neck this time. I want to get to the nitty gritty of what it looks like and how much I can do and if I’m going to be paralyzed. That was the biggest scare. If I did wrestle, I could potentially get paralyzed,”-Saraya
Saraya continued, revealing that she received official medical clearance on Halloween.
“Halloween, I went to the doctor in California, one of the best around. If anyone is going to tell me no, this guy is going to tell me no because his job is on the line. I got the x-rays done. ‘These are great, but we have to triple check with CT scans and MRI.’ I did the CT Scan and MRI within the same hour. It was very quick. He sat there, we went through them all, and he went, ‘You’re cleared.’ I burst into tears. ‘Are you serious?’ I was still asking questions like about the fluid around my neck. It was just the fluid was back. The fusion was perfect, there were no fractures above or below. ‘Let’s talk about paralysis.’ ‘It’s rare. If you get kicked there, you have a cushion now. If you ever feel that you’re not feeling too well, take some time off. You know you’re body. I will clear you to get back in the ring.’ ‘How many matches can I have?’ ‘Take it easy, do one match a month and gradually start building it up.’ Long story short, Halloween is when I got the full clearance.”-Saraya
The neck injury that caused Saraya to initially retire in December of 2017 came as a result of a kick from Sasha Banks. Saraya has stated numerous times that she harbours no ill will towards Banks, believing that it was simply an unfortunate accident.
Upon being medically cleared to return to the ring, the first person Saraya called was Banks, in order to finally take that weight off of her shoulders.
“I’m not going to be going absolutely crazy, but I also don’t want to be held back. I’m fully aware of what I can and can’t do. No, I’m not going to get kicked in the back of the head again, which was my fault, again, that was my fault. The first person I text was Sasha, one of the first people. All that stuff, that can mentally fuck someone up, to end someone’s career. A lot of people pitched us against each other, her fans were attacking me, my fans were attacking her. There was a small percentage, but they would attack each other and they’re always the loudest. They were going at it, they’re still going at it. They would send me tweets, ‘I’m so happy Sasha broke your neck.’ People are tweeting at her, ‘How dare you end someone’s career. You’re unsafe.’ She’s not unsafe. It’s an accident. It happens in wrestling. I told her, ‘Hey sis, I just want to let you know, since the whole thing was tough on you mentally, but my doctor cleared me and told me my neck is 100% ready to go. I haven’t told anyone else, but I know this will make you feel good. I’m back, haha.’ She was like, ‘I’m so happy.’ She was over the moon. I said to her, ‘I don’t want you to feel bad anymore.’ I had that period of time away and that was actually for the best in the long run because I had time to focus on myself, get healthy, get sober, stop rushing out and doing other things. I felt it was meant to be and my neck healed in record time, it was five years, and I’m officially back. I think that’s pretty fucking inspiring,”-Saraya
Saraya joined the company at AEW Dynamite Grand Slam, confronting Britt Baker after a post-match beatdown. Saraya was one of the most popular women’s wrestlers in WWE during her previous run, so its certainly exciting to see her finally step back into the ring after almost 5 years in retirement.
H/T to Fightful for the transcription.